The UMOJA Outdoor Roller Skating Rink at Liberation Park in East Oakland is a rad spot to lace up or strap on some roller skates, sway to some awesome jams, and take part in the roller-skating community. Located in the center of Liberation Park, the UMOJA roller skating rink is a product of efforts by the Black Cultural Zone and its partners to retain black communities in East Oakland and provide a safe space where residents and visitors can enjoy outdoor cultural and wellness activities. They offer a variety of activities at Liberation Park including outdoor family roller skating, adult (18+) roller skating, movie nights, yoga, and the Akoma Outdoor Market. Family roller skating is offered for free during the Akoma Outdoor Market.
Despite the fact that I haven’t gone roller skating since middle school, we visited the UMOJA roller skating rink on a Sunday afternoon for family roller skating. Was I any good? No. But the entire family had fun, we got some exercise in, and we all ate some delicious food from local vendors. It was a win in my book.
Family Roller Skating at the UMOJA Roller Skating Rink at Liberation Park
After walking through the gates at Liberation Park, we made our way to the UMOJA roller skating rink and waited in a short line to get some rental roller skates and sign a waiver. They had rental sizes for the entire family. We brought our own helmet, knee pads, and elbow pads for my daughter, but I appreciated that they offered them for rent as well.
My daughter insisted that she start off with her pair of plastic strap-on Frozen-themed roller skates that she received as a gift for her last birthday, but we also rented a pair of legitimate roller skates in case she felt like leveling up. I loved the retro lace-up roller skates I was offered as a rental. They made me feel 100x more confident in getting on the rink simply because I felt so cool.
We took a brave picture before attempting our way up the ramp onto the rink. I was grateful for the handrails, smooth floors, and that there was plenty of wall space to hang onto while we got used to being mobile. I was also appreciative of the shaded coverage given we went on a very hot and sunny day.
My daughter fell almost immediately and before I could make it over to her, an eight-year-old girl roller-skated right over to us and offered a hand to help her up. I overheard her tell my daughter, “I like to help the younger kids learn how to roller skate.” My heart instantly warmed and it really set the tone for the rest of our session. It didn’t take us all too long to get the hang of it and we had a blast making our way in circles around the rink. Also, the music is on point.
Part of the fun was being able to check out the impressive skills of other roller skaters and also to give an understanding nod to those that were still learning like we were. After a few laps, my daughter asked to switch out her Frozen roller skates for her big kid rentals. It was much harder for her to stay upright after the switch, but we were proud that she made it around one more time before asking for a snack and water break.
We ended up taking one more lap around the rink before deciding to call it quits. After returning our rentals, we ventured out of the roller skating rink into the rest of the park area where food and retail tents were set up for the Akoma Outdoor Market. We entirely enjoyed our roller skating family session and are adding it to our list of activities that we’re up for doing again.
Looking for another place to practice your roller skating outdoors? Check out the Brooklyn Basin (Oakland).
The Akoma Outdoor Market at Liberation Park
One popular event at Liberation Park is the Akoma Outdoor Market — a farmers’ market that highlights local Black and Brown farmers, vendors, organizations, and artists. Typically hosted on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month, the Akoma Outdoor Market is set up around the UMOJA skating rink so it was a great way to grab some food and check out local vendors after we finished roller skating.
We ended up purchasing a few drinks and desserts from local vendors before heading home. I need to give a special shoutout to Baby Bean Pie for their delicious navy bean pies. They are so good that I messaged them right when I got home to ask them if they offered larger pies for the holidays (spoiler, they do). A navy bean pie needs to be on my Thanksgiving dessert table this year. We had a limited amount of leisure time with a young kid so I’m looking forward to returning to spend more time looking through what the other local vendors had to offer and share.
Can’t get enough of Farmers’ Markets? Check out our East Bay Farmers Markets Guide.
Plan your visit to the UMOJA Roller Skating Rink at Liberation Park
- Days and Hours: At the moment, family roller skating is only offered during the Akoma Outdoor Market which happens on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month. The next market is on October 17. Due to the holidays, the Akoma Outdoor Market is open only on the 1st Sunday for November and December. The Akoma Outdoor Market is open from 10 am – 3 pm.
- Location: 6955 Foothill Blvd., Oakland
- Price: Family roller skating and rentals are free during the Akoma Outdoor Market (but please support the local vendors if you go); prices for roller skating lessons and adult (18+) sessions are posted on the Black Cultural Zone’s website— tickets usually cost around $10.
- Parking: We parked across the street near the McDonalds and walked across the street to Liberation Park. Parking there is free.
- Updates: It’s a bit difficult to get a hold of someone to ask for updates. We found the most up-to-date information is available on the Black Cultural Zone’s Instagram and Twitter.
Pro-Tip: The Oakland Zoo is about a five-minute drive from Liberation Park. It’s a great way to tack on a few more hours of family time to this trip. If you are an Oakland Zoo member, you do not need a reservation for visiting the zoo after 2 pm. We ended up visiting Liberation Park a little bit after lunch and then squeezing a 1-2 hour trip to the Oakland Zoo afterward.
Not up for a full visit to the zoo? Check out Knowland Park Open Space (behind the Oakland Zoo).
The Bottom Line
I know of very few, if any, outdoor roller-skating rinks in the Bay Area, and I don’t consider myself a roller skater — I am nonetheless so glad that I pushed myself and the family out of our comfort zone to go for it at Liberation Park. It was a huge perk for us to also be able to support local Black and Brown vendors at the Akoma Outdoor Market. Being able to pair this visit with the Oakland Zoo is also a major bonus for us as zoo members. I’m looking forward to replicating this perfect weekend duo of activities again soon.